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For small and medium-sized industrial companies, investments in automation may form an obstacle to optimising processes. This shouldn’t be a concern. It is still possible to make savings and improvements with small steps.

Predicting maintenance

One such step could be condition monitoring. By keeping an eye on the performance and condition of machine parts – such as the cycle time of a valve or the energy that it takes to perform a repetitive movement – you can predict when a part is due for maintenance or replacement. This prevents the failure of parts and the subsequent stoppage of production. In addition, you can schedule the part replacement outside peak times, which results in cost-efficient maintenance.

Optimising energy

Effective use of sensors is another step that can increase returns. By taking accurate measurements instead of making assumptions, you will be better able to streamline processes and save on costs. For example, smart energy sensors can determine how energy is used. This can often lead to unexpected insights. Many companies are still not fully aware of quite how much energy certain machines use. Precise information may lead to you changing the process or machine schedule, for example, to avoid current peaks. Or you may schedule the use of energy-intensive machines at a time of day when energy is less expensive.

Using robots

A suitable way of saving on costs is to use employees more efficiently. Essentially, this means setting up your processes optimally. Robots can help you do so. Please note, however, that saving on labour does not necessarily mean replacing people with robots. The point is that you optimise the processes by taking a closer look at the entire system. For example, quality checks carried out by people often take up a lot of time. Is it really necessary? Could it be done differently? By establishing a clear work process, you can save time and money on interim checks.

Tips on producing with less manpower

  1. Determine how you could benefit from producing with less manpower. What are your goals? How could humanless production contribute to them? Let’s say that your control stage could be more efficient. What possibilities and opportunities do you have?
  2. Get your employees involved in this change process as early as the planning stage. Make sure that they become enthusiastic about it too as this will make it easier to introduce and implement.
  3. Allow both your new and current processes to run concurrently for a while. Once everything works properly, you can make the switch. This helps avoid uncertainties and setbacks.
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